Paramount Pictures brings us a brilliantly restored John Wayne classic in a stunning Blu-ray transfer that presents the film in the best version since its original theatrical run with McLintock! In the film, George Washington McLintock (John Wayne), “GW” to friends and foes alike, is the richest man in the territory. He has a township named after him, heads of cattle as far as the eye can see, and more influence than the Mayor and sheriff combined. While GW is anxiously awaiting the return of his daughter Becky (a young and beautiful Stephanie Powers in one of her first film roles) from school, he’s surprised to see that his wayward, society influenced wife Katherine (Wayne’s favorite leading lady Maureen O’Hara) has also reluctantly returned. Between his wife scheming to take their daughter back to the high society capitol, his headstrong daughter, the hired hand out for Becky’s hand, the crooked land agent and the thieving government Indian agent, GW struggles to keep the peace and do what is best for everyone.
McLintock! was a bit of a rebound film for Wayne. After he had just finished supporting roles in large cast extravaganzas The Longest Day and How the West was Won, and leading the screwball comedy of Donavan’s Reef to disappointing results, fans were eager to see Wayne get back to a starring western role. Wayne himself wanted to keep the lighter hearted tone he had enjoyed so much with Donovan’s Reef which lead to this western comedic take on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, with a twist of course. The film features some very funny comedic elements and some great performances, but is also a clear time capsule of a different time as stereotypes run rampant – a Chinese house cook spouting clichés after his job is taken away for example, and a woman getting spanked with an iron ladle in front of a crowd is played off for laughs.
As good as Wayne, O’Hara, Powers, John’s son Patrick Wayne, a pre-Munsters Yvonne De Carlo and frequent Wayne co-star Chill Wills are, and they all are very good, the film itself is uneven in its attempts to flip between action and comedy. Wayne’s character is frequently acknowledged under multiple different iterations of his name, as he’s referred to as either McLintock or Mclinnik whenever the film feels like it, which may have been played up for laughs but only results in confusion. Even the action set pieces, like the fight with the settlers, play out as an awkward combination of comedy and fisticuffs. The film would succeed based on the charisma of Wayne alone, but there have been better stories and scripts to surround the actor.
The film looks amazing as the transfer is beautiful and the disc is loaded with extras and recollections about the production and Wayne himself, including interviews with Powers and O`Hara, and is introduced by critic, historian and fan of the film Leonard Maltin. Despite its sometimes uneven tone, with the Blu-ray priced very modestly Mclintock! should be a very easy buy decision for fans of the Duke, and a fun time for everybody else.